I consider myself a gaming enthusiast, from chess and checkers to Yu-Gi-Oh TCG, console gaming, and beyond.
Ever since the first fusion monster widened our eyes with its purple trim, the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG has always been a race to the Extra Deck. Like the Golden Gun from the James Bond games, accessing the Extra Deck, and consequently spamming the field as quickly as possible with a rainbow of monsters, currently grants the most expedient path to victory.
Even with Link monsters restricting the Extra Deck, like those annoying guys with badges at the mall preventing you from dancing in that wishing fountain, our new, blue gatekeepers do little to prevent any duelist with a little imagination from unleashing an army of Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, Pendulum, and Link monsters on your doorstep. Fortunately, right when we think we have the great-game-crafters-in-the-sky figured out, they throw a wrench in the already messy machinery of our minds by granting support to archetypes we thought dead.
More nefarious than this, however, is when they boost or create a new archetype not requiring the Extra Deck to survive, and then make it competitive with any flashy deck thinking playing solitaire equals victory. For those not desiring to taste the Yu-Gi-Oh rainbow in one’s strategy, the following are the top ten decks that don’t need an Extra Deck.
10. Any Chaos Build
A mix of two the most highly supported Attribute-archetypes in the game, boss monsters with easy summoning conditions and powerful effects, and as many combinations as a programmable safe… What’s not to love? All players know and fear the bosses of chaos, and for good reason: all it takes is the banishing of a Light and Dark monster for them to meteorite the field, and then their high attack and banishing effects make players wince.
After duelists struggled to rattle their brains against Zombiesworn, Chaos Dragons, and the Black Luster Soldier archetype, Konami finally decided to zap our imaginations with the Twilightsworns, a mix of Lightsworns with their new Twilightsworn cousins, which includes their own dark version of Judgment Dragon (Yes, that’s right, mister-abort-his-friends-to-win has a distant relative). Luckily all it takes is siding a Light or Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror to shut down half the deck, and Chaos Trap Hole exists for a reason, but for every Dark or Light archetype created, there will be a new Chaos deck recipe, and a method to fight without an Extra deck.
A deck with so many high-level monsters it gives dragons a run for their money, the Darkords are an archetype of dark fairies resembling fallen angels. Even though they don’t generate the ridiculous attack factors mythological lizards do, they balance themselves with support specializing in destruction and special summoning from the grave, and then some of the archetypes can duplicate the effect of a Darklord Spell or Trap card and recycle it for a mere 1000 lifepoints.
With draw power (Darklord Ixchel), destruction (Zerato), protection (Tezcatlipoca) and the ability to special summon inherent in the fallen angels themselves (Superbia), an Extra deck isn’t needed for these evil fairies to bring you down from grace with them. With Monster, Spell, and Trap effects all equally frightening weapons in this deck, the Darklords requiring a Graveyard build-up for explosive plays and them sharing the same taint as other evil archetypes serve as the only barriers preventing you from succumbing to the dark side.
8. Fire Kings
It looks like the writer’s favorite monster finally snapped. When Apex Avian focused all his rage for not getting any support for millennia, devoted his energies to destruction rather than to passive negation, went to India, then went to hell and gathered some minions, the Fire Kings were born.
The Apex-Garuda took a look at Black Rose Dragon and laughed as he spread his new scorched wings over her broken form. He dedicated his life to her arts, learned how to rend the field with just his presence after the pain he experienced from dying endlessly in poorly-conceived Mist Valley builds. Negate and destroy? Oh, he said he’d negate all right, negate the existence of all monsters as he rises from hell and onto the field. Pain is their life, their life is pain, and that pain is now yours. Such is the tale of the Fire Kings, and why they make this list.
7. Dark Magician
Leave it to Yugi Motou to make you fear the classics. Long reliant on Fusion summons to spellbind the opponent, the release of new support in The Dark Illusion booster gave The Dark Magician enough tricks to start a Las Vegas magic show. Magician’s Rod searches for Dark Magician Spell and Trap cards, Magician’s Navigation special summons a Dark Magician from the hand and the deck for no cost, Eternal Soul grants immunity to Dark Magician cards while special summoning one from the grave or can add either the classic yet deadly Dark Magic Attack or Thousand Knives to one's hand, the ever-powerful Dark Magic Circle searches among one’s top three cards for the deck’s assistants while sorting them, then has the non-target goodness of banishing a card when a Dark Magician is summoned, and all this doesn’t count the cards already helping Specllcasters as options.
Ebon Illusion Magician, a powerful Xyz who can materialize Dark Spellcaster-Normal monsters from the hand or deck and banish when one of those monsters is feeling froggy, may be the true director of the archetype’s show, but his megaphone and onion breath aren't needed if one wants to run the darkest magic show on Earth. If the deck’s show wasn’t primarily a solo act, and if the Dark Magician wasn’t so reliant on Spell and Traps to dazzle you, he would rank higher on this list; however, his ability to escape any box, even if it’s dumped in the Mariana Trench with more chains than a bondage lover’s factory, makes him the only Spellcaster independent enough to make the cut.
6. Cyber Angel
Honestly, any Ritual Deck could make this list, but in the writer’s opinion, no other sacrifices its kin better than the Cyber Angels. By themselves, the Cyber Angels tribute themselves to Ritual Summon their sisters to the field, but unlike the lame Hieratics who just special a normal Dragon weaker than a walking skeleton with osteoporosis, the Sisterhood of the Cyber search for each other, boost their attack, and recycle from the Graveyard to the hand. Adding to their heavenly wrath, the boss of the deck, Cyber Angel Vrash, not only wins the award for simplest boss monster name ever, but also has non-targeting destruction on monsters from the Extra Deck just by getting summoned, can make two attacks during the battle phase with a whopping 3000 in the trunk, and can negate a card effect once per turn by recycling one of her sisters into the deck!
As if the archetype synergy wasn’t strong enough, the Cyber Angels easily run Honest, the infamous, ironically named hand-trap of Light decks, and the Herald of Perfection or Ultimateness (Which is not a word, by the way, but who cares when your that awesome), two other Ritual monsters who negate everything. So yeah, we shall now sing high praises to the Sisterhood of Cyber, their holy warrior Vrash, and their god, the Herald of Ultimateness. May all other decks that kneel before the Extras wipe their brows and tremble.
5. Graydle Kaiju
Arguably one of the most influential archetypes in Yu-Gi-Oh, the Kaijus offered a tech, jargon for off-theme support still assisting a strategy, for any deck requiring an option against invincible boss monsters. By themselves, a Kaiju deck suffers from speed issues, considering one can only control a single Kaiju at a time, and from hands with nothing but high-level monsters, a condition called bricking for those not in the know. However, combined with the Graydles, an archetype of little gray creatures that take control of an opponent’s monster when destroyed, and you have a force to reckon with: Even if your opponent destroys your giant Japanese monster loving to sit more than Yokozuna in his heyday, you can still take back the one you gave them with a well-placed Graydle.
With the ability to simply tribute any effect-immune or steroid-enhanced monster your opponent unleashes and its little, snatch-stealing gray aliens as reinforcements, Graydle-Kaiju will always be one of the best combinations not requiring an Extra Deck.
There isn’t much more the writer can say about the Lightsworns that hasn’t already been said. They’re crazy, suicidal, self-righteous crusaders who worship a dragon with an indiscriminate murder-beam, but that’s not how they made this list. They’re also fast, consistent, all their support benefits their overall strategy, their boss monster wipes the field for a mere 1000 lifepoints, and they don’t need an Extra deck to make any of this happen. Konami releasing several new Lightsworn cards every year continues to fuel their cause, making them still one of best decks not needing an Extra deck you’ll either oppose or play.
3. Magical Musketeer
Luckily for some, unluckily for others, Konami finally found a deck idea they never previously touched: cowboys of the Wild West, oddly mixed with characters from the German opera “Der Freischütz.” The Magical Musketeers are an archetype of Light-attribute fiends who allow a player to activate their Spell or Trap support, exclusively Magical Musket cards, from the hand during either player’s turn. If a Spell or Trap is activated in the column behind any of these soprano-cowboys, they also all gain effects, including searching, drawing, special summoning from the deck or hand, and recycling, and then the nuke to accompany your bombardment is the Magical Musket Spells and Traps also do stuff, which includes Spell or Trap negation, monster effect negation, attack and defense reduction to 0, classic destruction, and the doubling of attack and defense.
Naturally, these guys don’t need to access Link, Synchro, Xyz, or Pendulum monsters to do any of this stuff, because the middle man means jack squat when you’re trying to make a deck that’ll be broken by a ban list later to make profits. But seriously, not even the animal worshipping, hot-coal-walking Fire Fists, or the tome-juggling Spellbooks have the range these gunslingers have, literally and gameplay-wise. Anyone looking for a deck with unassailable support, where the monsters work in perfect tandem with their ammunition without the need to punch into the Extra Deck, need to look no further than the Magical Musketeers.
This list would be incomplete without the deck that redefined classic mechanics in Yu-Gi-Oh. Like a Jedi using Battle Meditation to bolster his or her allies, the Kozmos brought hope at a time when everyone believed a deck not spamming from the Extra deck couldn’t survive. It made duelists realize Konami wasn’t creating new mechanics just to overshadow the old and created new insight in the game, as well as buckets of drool from the Star Wars/Wizard of Oz fandom. For those unaware of the Kozmos’ greatness, and for those who skipped the writer’s thrashing of the deck in a previous article, they consist of Light and Dark Machine and Psychic monsters that specialize in attacking with a smaller monster before banishing themselves to special summon their drop-ships from the hand for massive battle damage.
The low-level Psychics search and banish themselves to summon spaceships; the spaceships are immune to targeting effects, have high attack power, destroy monsters or Spell and Traps upon their summon, and search when they're destroyed, sent to the graveyard, and successfully banish themselves. Most of the decks listed before our dear Dorothy Skywalker do have Extra deck support, but don’t need it to make you flinch; the Kozmos, with their lack of level synergy and lack of a tuner, don’t even have Extra deck options if things get dicey. However, with the Kozmojo and nostalgia on their side, they never needed it.
No other deck can stand beside the Monarchs when it comes to relying on cards showcasing exclusively orange. The infamous rulers of the Yu-Gi-Oh realm who sit on their subjects to get their card effects, the Monarchs gained overwhelming support with March of the Monarchs, a continuous Spell making it so tribute summoned monsters can’t be targeted or destroyed by card effects, draw power with Pantheism of the Monarchs, and synergy with the Eidos and Edea, the Underworld and Heavenly squire who in-tandem allow the Tribute Summon of level 7 or higher monster.
Including the effects each Monarchs gets when tribute summoned, most decks have trouble maintaining pace with these field-stomping kings. But just in case a deck can keep pace, their Field Spell, Domain of the True Monarchs, prevents one’s opponent from accessing any cards in the Extra Deck. The ability of Monarchs to play well without an Extra Deck and to prevent you from accessing yours makes them the best deck you can use against a player using their Extra Deck like a portal to Thanos’s Chitauri, and the undisputed rulers of this list.
© 2017 Zeron87
Jace on July 08, 2020:
How about qliphorts
Zeron87 (author) on April 19, 2020:
Joseph Ford: Thanks for the comment, man! The Artifacts... Meh. Now True Draco will definitely take a spot on this list. I am so tired of zombie archetypes, but am still eager on what the Eldlich will bring to the table. If only their boss monster didn't target... And the Adamancipators: so that's where the Sylvans went! After their forest got burnt down by the Metalfoes, they went underground and learned how to excavate rocks! I'm definitely looking forward to hating them for years to come ^_^.
Joseph Ford from LYME REGIS on April 14, 2020:
Hey! Great article as always, just a few suggestions for if you reboot this:
Nekroz (not for the main strategy anyway)
Gren Maju Beatdown
Eldlich ( look them up, they came out in secret slayers along with the game-wrecking Adamancipators)
Zeron87 (author) on June 24, 2019:
Blue eyes user: But what about Blue Eyes?! Nah, I'm playin', but seriously Elementsaber is definitely a contender and will probably go on this hub's reiteration.
Grey: I haven't fought Phantom Spirals in a while, but will look into them. They were definitely threatening for a while before Links.
Divine Dragon Lord: I actually tried running Felgrands for a time, but they didn't pack enough speed to be included among this list's contenders, IMO.
Dragonis: See comment above.
Pladatookus: Those are all contenders too, Skull Servants probably the most viable one. Seriously, I hated those guys back in the day, so much I wish I had a flamethrower to burn my opponent's deck every time I saw them. My poor Harpies didn't stand a chance...
ultimatedefense: Yup, Exodia would, but I saved a special spot for him in my Top Yugioh OTK article ^_^.
Thanks for your comments and continued support!
Mick555 on June 05, 2019:
Where's blue eyes
Blue eyes user on May 07, 2019:
Grey on April 11, 2019:
Well Phantasm Spirals don't need extra deck and work exclusively with normal monsters
Pladatookus on November 18, 2018:
weather, timelords, spirit, earthbound, necroface and soul absorb turbo, skull servants.
Divine Dragon Lord on March 26, 2018:
Felgrands don't need em
BEWARE DANGER on March 21, 2018:
Would an exodia deck count in this list?